More than 100 days without relief, Immigrant Workers, Families Left Behind By Government Aid say, “We Must Be Included In Disaster Relief! ”

Community Town Hall calls on legislators and Gov. Murphy to provide disaster relief to all 

New Jersey-Monday, June 29th, 2020 -- Immigrant workers excluded from state pandemic and economic relief led a virtual community town hall urging state legislators and Governor Murphy to include immigrant workers and their families in Covid19 disaster relief. 

The health and economic impact of the Covid19 pandemic on undocumented immigrants and their families are compounded by the lack of aid reaching immigrant communities in the state. Speakers at the town hall shared their experience without aid called for the creation of a disaster relief fund for excluded workers and their family members. This fund would provide income replacement for displaced immigrant workers, excluded from unemployment insurance, and their families, and a stimulus payment for any taxpayers excluded from the federal stimulus.

Newly released data shows New Jersey undocumented immigrants have paid upwards of $1.36 billion dollars in taxes towards the state unemployment fund in the past decade. Yet, undocumented workers and their families have not received any unemployment or pandemic relief from the state for the last 100 days. Advocates are urging for the passage of bill S2480/A4171 that would provide excluded immigrant New Jerseyans with the economic relief they need.

Impacted community members and advocates offered the following statements. 

Maria Rodriguez, domestic worker, member of National Domestic Workers Alliance said, 

"I am a house cleaner, domestic worker, member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. It is very important that New Jersey creates an Economic Relief Fund for those workers that were excluded from the Federal Relief Fund. Those workers like me are essential workers and contribute to our society and it is not fair that in this crisis, our government does not protect us. An economic relief fund is the right to do."

 Julian Rodriguez Gallego client of American Friends Service Committee said,

"I have lived and worked in New Jersey for five years. I support a four-year-old U.S. citizen son; however, the pandemic has put a huge financial burden on my family because we’ve been left out of economic relief. Without this assistance, immigrant families like mine, who have been working and paying taxes in New Jersey for many years will continue to suffer. New Jersey should create an economic relief fund to include all of us." 

Kevin Brown, Vice President and NJ State Director of 32BJ SEIU said, 

“As we pass the 100-day mark on New Jersey's state of emergency, we insist that none of our state's working families can be left behind. All New Jerseyans, regardless of immigration status, deserve support to get through the burdens brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Undocumented immigrants in our state pay an estimated $600 million in state and local taxes and have contributed $1 billion to the state's unemployment insurance fund in the past decade. It's only fair that they receive their fair share of aid in return. We urge our legislators to draw up a Disaster Relief Fund to reach families excluded from aid. Other states, like California and Connecticut, have recognized that it's our moral duty to help those who contribute so much yet have fallen through the safety net, and New Jersey should too.”

Gloria Guerrero member with Laundry Workers Center said,

“I am a member of the laundry workers center. I want to express that it is important that we receive economic relief, the suffering of our families and children is not fair, our children are citizens and just because they have undocumented parents they did not receive their relief, our children now feel sad and discriminated by this system without scruples.”

Gloria Guerrero’s statement in Spanish: 

“Soy miembra del centro de trabajadores de lavandería. Yo quiero expresar que es importante que recibamos el alivio económico,no es justo el sufrimiento de nuestras familias e hijos ,nuestros hijos son ciudadanos y solo por tener padres indocumentados no recibieron su alivio, nuestros hijos ahora se sienten tristes y discriminados por este sistema sin escrúpulos.

Rodolfo Guerrero, member of CATA -The Farmworker Support Committee said,

"The pandemic has impacted so many people, especially in the undocumented community.  We are going through the same difficulties, but our immigration status determines whether or not we receive support even though the undocumented community contributes to the state economy and the unemployment fund.  We need the state to support ALL during in this difficult time."

The community forum was sponsored by the following organizations the ACLU-NJ, American Friends Service Committee, Casa Freehold, CATA - The Farmworker Support Committee, Faith in New Jersey, Laundry Workers Center, Make the Road New Jersey, National Domestic Workers Alliance, NDLON, New Labor, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Unidad Latina en Accion NJ, SEIU 32BJ, and Wind of the Spirit